Strong readers start out as good listeners. Phonological awareness—the ability to identify, differentiate, recall, and manipulate the different sound structures of language—is essential to developing solid reading and writing skills. Children who have trouble attending to the sound structure of spoken language early in their school careers are likely to struggle with the acquisition of reading skills and spelling.

That can be a challenge for many students, but it is particularly difficult for children coping with dyslexia. Research shows that their brains experience disruptions in regions responsible for phonological processing abilities. For that reason, dyslexic students generally require intensive practice and specialized instruction to create helpful neuropathways that lead to reading success.

Phonological awareness training for students in the first three years of school (K–Grade 2) can help address these deficits, increasing a child’s awareness of the sounds in sentences, syllables, and words in an explicit and systematic way that can strengthen reading skills in both English and French. Unlike language acquisition, phonological awareness is a metalinguistic skill that requires conscious reflection. Research indicates that phonological awareness develops in a particular sequence in beginning readers, and that training should focus on identifying and manipulating sounds within words.

Are you an educator? Evoke Learning offers a one-day reading remediation certification workshop for teachers using the WISE READING® Remediation Program developed through the applied doctoral research of Nancy Wise. To learn more, visit www.evokelearning.ca.